Monday, March 1, 2010

The OPR report

The OPR report on the 'Torture memos" is remarkably disheartening and hopeful at the same time.

It's fate is disheartening because its quashing by Margolis is one more example of shielding the big fish while small fry get served up for dinner. It really is a scandal that the likes of Lynndie England are prosecuted while senior officials get a pass.

I agree that the CIA operatives who may have tortured or abused someone in custody based on the shoddy legal framework provided should not be prosecuted -- so long as the high muckety-mucks that authorized it are held accountable. Of course, that is not happening nor does it seem to be in prospect. Instead there's mumblings about holding people responsible who may have "exceeded" the guidelines, which sounds a lot like deciding to scapegoat some small fry again.

It's a hopeful development in another sense, because it's one more brick in what will obviously be a very long process of bringing people to justice. No one should forget that there is no statute of limitations on war crimes. Many years, even decades later crimes committed by the Nazis, by the Khmer Rouge, by South American death squads have been successfully prosecuted. Dick Cheney's ticker may give out before he faces a serious consequence but Yoo is a young man and will have to spend many more years looking over his shoulder. It's already dangerous for him to travel outside the U.S.

Speaking of Dick Cheney, his recent mild heart attack has prompted some comment about karma but I, for one, hope he sticks around for a long time. Should he die soon there is no doubt in my mind that there will be a rush, a freaking deluge, of people blaming him for what happened. The only defender he'll have left will be his daughter, but every partner in crime will suddenly coke clean about how "Dick made me do it."

Cheney, in my view, certainly does bear a lot of culpability, but he was just one man and he had plenty of help in dishonoring America. It would be a shame for those fellow criminals to get away with their crimes by burying their sins in Cheney's grave.

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